The Business & Pleasure of Sports


Category: NCAA (39)

Bokamper, Baumhower host BCS seafood bash


Baumhower-pic.jpg

Former Miami Dolphins teammates and now restaurateurs Kim Bokamper and Bob Baumhower will get the good times rolling for the BCS Championship as hosts of the Alabama Gulf Seafood Tailgating Party at Bokamper’s Sports Bar and Grill in Miramar on Saturday from 1-5 p.m.

Baumhower (pictured above), who has a chain of restaurants in Alabama, and Bokamper were teammates on the Dolphins “Killer B’s” defense in the 1970s and '80s.

Guests include Rudy Ruettiger, the Notre Dame underdog and inspiration for the movie “Rudy,” as well as former Alabama and Dolphins players Dwight Stephenson, Tony Nathan and Don McNeal.

Admission is free to attend the event, featuring autograph signings, music by Southern Rock Society and panel discussions, including tips on preparing Alabama Gulf seafood by Baumhower’s corporate chef Steve Zucker.

Continue reading "Bokamper, Baumhower host BCS seafood bash" »

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Ticket deal: $5 for UM basketball doubleheader


Both the Miami Hurricanes men’s and women’s basketball teams are undefeated at home this season.

With both teams playing Thursday at BankUnited Center, UM is offering a $5 doubleheader ticket to see the men and the women. The men play Pepperdine at 6 p.m., followed by the women, who play Morgan State at 8 p.m. In between, UM will honor former Hurricane great Tamara James. James played for the Hurricanes from 2002 to 2006 and was drafted No. 8 by the WNBA’s Washington Mystics in 2006.

The Hurricane men are a perfect 6-0 at home and the women, who play George Washington at home tonight at 7, have a 10-game home winning streak this season. The women's home winning streak is 14 straight dating back to last season.

To purchase the Doubleheader Deal ticket, visit hurricanesports.com, call 800-GO-CANES or stop by the BankUnited Center box office on gameday.


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Holiday greetings: from stadium construction to swaying palms


Interactive holiday e-cards seem to get better and better each year. Here are a few I’ve received from local sports teams and entities:

Florida Marlins: No matter how you feel about public financing of the Marlins’ new ballpark, it’s being built. This card shows you construction in time-lapse – Have a Constructive New Year, indeed.

Florida Panthers: This simple interactive card covers the full gamut of business at BankAtlantic Center.

UM: This one isn’t from Hurricane Athletics, but there’s plenty of ‘Canes and The U cheer in this card from the University of Miami’s media relations department.

Orange Bowl: This one has a Corona ad feel, but is all South Florida. Enjoy this card from the Orange Bowl.

FAU Athletics: I’m not supposed to play favorites, but check out this card from the FAU Owls, complete with Athletic Director Craig Angelos showing off the under-construction football stadium and legendary football coach Howard Schnellenberger saying "Kwanzaa" is priceless.

Meanwhile, from outside Florida, this one from the Arizona Diamondbacks looks to have been shot in one take… Impressive work.

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Fan makes halfcourt shot, wins $25,000 (with video)


Check this out: a fan at Saturday’s MetroPCS Orange Bowl Classic made the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Halfcourt Shot during halftime of the University of Miami-UCF basketball game at BankAtlantic Center.

Keith Collier of Boynton Beach made the impressive shot and won the $25,000 prize.

Check out Collier’s shot from several angles:

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BOWLing for gifts


With the college bowl season kicking off next week, SportsBusiness Journal has done its annual roundup of bowl gifts to athletes. The list is chock full of electronics from iPods to Xboxes and even more bowls than ever are offering “gifting suites” in which players are invited to pick out gifts up to a certain dollar value.

According to SBJ, the Orange Bowl started the gifting suite two years ago, setting aside a room in each team’s hotel full of Sony Electronics products. Players were allowed to spend up to $300.

The NCAA allows bowls to give gifts worth up to $500 to 125 participants per school. Of the 35 bowl games, at least 14 are offering gifting suites this year – and some are bringing the suites to players before they arrive at the bowl game, SBJ reports.

Thanks, as always, to SBJ for gathering the list of gifts from the bowl games:

Last year, the Orange Bowl invited Iowa and Georgia Tech players to visit a gift suite for items such as clock radios, iPod docking stations, mountain bikes and luggage sets. Players also got a Tourneau watch, New Era hat and Ogio backpack.

Continue reading "BOWLing for gifts" »

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FanVision to be used at three BCS games, rollout continuing


Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross bought the company now known as FanVision, when he realized the handheld devices that show different camera angles, games and stats, might help combat the stay-at-home-watch the game on TV mentality.

FanVision is now in use in a dozen NFL stadiums and at University of Michigan and University of Miami games. In January, it will be used at three BCS games – the Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and BCS National Championship game. Read the SportsBusiness Journal piece on the agreements here.

At the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 3 at Sun Life Stadium, 500 of the devices will be provided to fans in the premium seating areas and to the media.

Continue reading "FanVision to be used at three BCS games, rollout continuing" »

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UM gets $5 million for academic center for athletes; offers ticket promotion


The University of Miami officially announced today the $5 million donation it has received toward its proposed$13.6 million center for athletic excellence.

The donation from the Ted & Todd Schwartz Family Foundation will help the university build the Theodore G. Schwartz and Todd G. Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence. The center, which will expand and upgrade the campus’ Hecht Athletic Center, is aimed at addressing the academic needs of UM’s student-athletes.

It is to include an academic center with classrooms, computer, math and science technology labs; a sports medicine facility with hydrotherapy pools, private exam rooms and rehab space; and a football locker room. A gallery of champions will feature the school’s national championship trophies and rings.

Continue reading "UM gets $5 million for academic center for athletes; offers ticket promotion " »

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StubHub partners with Miami & FSU


Just in time for college football season, online ticket marketplace StubHub continues its march across Florida and into the ACC, adding the University of Miami and Florida State to its 15 other college and conference partners.

The partnerships mean UM and FSU fans have another option for buying and selling tickets to their favorite college team. Both schools include links right on their websites (UM and FSU) to StubHub’s ticket inventory.

StubHub entered Florida in 2007 with a multi-year partnership with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

As part of the partnerships with both schools, StubHub will have in-stadium signage, promotions and other advertising.

Additionally, Hurricanes fans can grab their tickets at the company’s brand new “Last Minute Services” pickup location in Miami, which was opened last month to accommodate demand for tickets to the new-look Miami Heat. StubHub typically halts sales two days before an event to accommodate express delivery. The company has last-minute pick-up offices in 10 other markets.

And with college football opening tonight, ticket sales for Florida and Florida State rank in StubHub’s top 25 in volume. Alabama and Ohio State rank first and second – just as they do in the AP’s Top 25. The Gators rank 11th in ticket sales and 4th in the AP poll; and the Seminoles rank 22nd in ticket sales and 20th in the AP poll.


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Truly Nolen warns of tailgate pests


recluse1.jpgJust in time for tailgating season with college football getting underway Thursday night, Truly Nolen wants college football fans to be aware that tailgating should be about food and fun, not critters.

The pest control company says tailgating fans should be particularly aware of Crazy Ants, Mosquitoes and Brown Recluse Spiders.

“Each of these insects has the ability to cause problems for food, guests and pets under the right conditions,” Bob Hartley, Truly Nolen of America vice president of technical services and tailgating guru, said in a statement.

Avoid crazy ants with “properly sealed food containers.” “Drain sources of standing water” to avoid mosquitoes. And if you take off your shoes at your pre-game picnic, shake them out before putting them back on because brown recluse spiders like to nestle in them, the company warns.


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Texas has top selling college gear, UF third


Alabama may have won the national championship, but Texas still sells the most gear, Collegiate Licensing Co. reports. For the fifth consecutive year, Texas ranked No. 1 among CLC institutions based on royalties between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010.

Alabama ranked 2nd up from 5th in 2009 and bumping the University of Florida -- which held the No. 2 ranking in 2009 -- to No. 3.

In fact, royalties for all the Florida schools in the top 75 dropped between 2009 and 2010, except for the University of Miami, which ranked 27th in both years. FSU dropped to 19th from 16th in 2009; the University of South Florida dropped to 57th from 53rd; and the University of Central Florida fell to 66th from 61st.

CLC handles the licensing for about 200 colleges, bowl games and conferences.

Also of note, CLC reported, Knights Apparel Inc., the largest supplier of collegiate apparel to Wal-Mart, ranked as the No. 1 collegiate apparel licensee, knocking Nike from the top spot. And Fabrique Innovations became the No. 2 non-apparel licensee, behind EA Sports, because of its collegiate Snuggies.

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Discover Orange Bowl’s new name


ob1.jpgSouth Florida’s most famous college football game has a new moniker: Discover Orange Bowl.

Discover Financial Services, operator of the Discover card, has reached agreement with the Orange Bowl Committee and ESPN to title sponsor the BCS game for the next four years and five bowl games, including the national championship game in 2013. The contract runs from 2011 through 2014.

“As title sponsor of the Orange Bowl, Discover will be rewarding their card members all year long with exclusive benefits, including ticket offers and unique experiences at the Discover Orange Bowl,” Harit Talwar, president of US.S. Cards for Discover said in a statement. “It’s a great way to show how it pays to Discover.”

After 21 years – the longest reign as title sponsor of a BCS game – FedEx announced earlier this year, it was dropping its Orange Bowl sponsorship.

“Discover’s commitment to the Orange Bowl reinforces the game’s national strength and appeal as one of the premier sporting events in the country,” Orange Bowl Committee CEO Eric Poms said in a statement. “We welcome Discover to South Florida and the home of championship college football and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial partnership. Our shared passion will leave a lasting impact on our community, while further enriching the 77-year history of the Orange Bowl.”

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ESPN report: Sun Life Stadium, AmericanAirlines Arena among worst in food safety violations (UPDATED with stadium response)


Florida's pro sports venues -- particularly those in South Florida -- scored record high numbers of food vendor safety violations, according to ESPN's Outside the Lines’ exhaustive report that examined the health inspection records of all 107 pro sports venues in North America.

Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, Florida Marlins and University of Miami Hurricanes; and AmericanAirlines Arena, the Miami Heat’s home, were tied for third worst with 93 percent of vendors scoring critical violations.

Only St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Washington D.C.’s Verizon Center, which is home to the Washington Wizards and Capitals, scored worse. Both showed 100 percent of vendors with critical violations.

An excerpt from the inspection report for Sun Life Stadium says: In June 2009, an employee complained anonymously that small insects and other debris were blended into frozen alcoholic beverages at a stand where equipment wasn't being cleaned. When inspectors checked, they issued a critical violation for a buildup of slime inside the frozen drinks machine.

Centerplate, the stadium's food concessionaire released the following statement:

"Centerplate takes the topic of food safety and the well-being of our fans seriously, and works with the local health department to actively manage safe food service operations. Employees are trained and operations are routinely inspected to ensure that they meet standards for safe operation. Any deficiencies that are identified during the course of an inspection are immediately corrected, usually in the presence of the inspector," Bob Pascal, Centerplate senior vice president of marketing, said in a statement.

"The Florida state health department system has a rigorous and stringent approach to inspections, and evaluates stadiums based on whether they have met standards for safe operation--which Sun Life Stadium has done in 100% of its inspection reports for 2009 (ESPN's sample) and to-date in 2010."

The stadium, too, addressed concerns fans might have:

"It is important to note that the stadium has passed every health and safety inspection," Todd Boyan, the stadium's senior vice president of operations, said in a statement. "In fact, because the State of Florida is more strict than most states and demands more detailed and frequent testing, the stadium and its concessionaire are required to be more publicly diligent in meeting safety requirements. Any past inspection infraction has been corrected and we expect our concessionaire to meet every health and safety recommendation made by the appropriate local and state inspectors. Nothing is more important to us than the health, safety, and entertainment experience at Sun Life Stadium."

Meanwhile, the AmericanAirlines Arena report says: Critical violations included several safety issues related to electrical wiring and such equipment as gas boilers.

Just 67 percent of the vendors at the Florida Panthers' BankAtlantic Center recorded critical violations. The report said: Inspectors issued several violations for soiled ice bins and coolers.

Read ESPN’s full venue rundown.

According to the report, Florida’s venues “scored among the worst when it came to violations cited by inspectors. Inspections are performed by a state agency, and officials say that makes their standards more uniform and stringent.”

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Orange Bowl could be named for Hershey’s Reese’s brand


ESPN is in serious negotiations with Hershey’s for the chocolate giant’s Reese’s brand to become the title sponsor of the Orange Bowl college football game, according to a report in today’s SportsBusiness Journal.

After 21 years, FedEx has bowed out as title sponsor of the BCS game played at Sun Life Stadium. FedEx had the longest reign as sponsor of a BCS game, but the company said it wanted to focus on its other sports marketing properties, including partnerships with the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup, the NFL, NBA and NASCAR’s Joe Gibbs Racing.

The SportsBusiness Journal report says ESPN is negotiating with Hershey’s on a four-year deal worth less than $20 million a year. ESPN will begin broadcasting BCS games, including the national championship, next year under a four-year contract that runs through 2014.

Hershey’s declined to comment.

"We believe the Orange Bowl is a premier property and a tremendous marketing opportunity. We are in active discussions with advertisers,” ESPN spokeswoman Amy Phillips said in a statement.

The Orange Bowl Committee, which hosts the game, isn’t negotiating the sponsorship deal, but is aware of the discussions.

“We are in regular discussions with ESPN regarding the title sponsorship of the Orange Bowl,” Orange Bowl Committee CEO Eric Poms said in a statement. “There are active conversations in the marketplace around the title sponsorship of the Orange Bowl.”

The Orange Bowl next hosts the national championship game in 2013.

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FedEx drops title sponsorship of Orange Bowl game


After 21 years – and the longest reign as title sponsor of a BCS game -- FedEx is dropping its moniker from the Orange Bowl college football game.

Kevin Demsky, FedEx Director of Sponsorship Marketing, said the express delivery and logistics company decided it was time to focus on its other sports marketing partnerships, including the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup, and relationships with the NFL, NBA and NASCAR's Joe Gibbs Racing.

“Obviously it was a very difficult decision, one we labored over long and hard,” Demsky said. “We made the decision it was probably best for us to begin focusing on some of our other investments.”

ESPN, which will begin broadcasting BCS games in January under a four-year contract that runs through 2014, is working on finding a new corporate naming partner for the game played at Sun Life Stadium.

"We are in active discussions around the Orange Bowl, which is a premier property and presents a tremendous marketing opportunity,” ESPN's president of customer marketing and sales Ed Erhardt said in a statement. “FedEx remains an important client and we continue to be engaged with them in other areas."

ESPN declined further comment.

The Orange Bowl Committee, which promotes the game and its surrounding events, is not involved in title sponsorship negotiations, committee spokesman Larry Wahl said. The network and the BCS are responsible for bowl payouts, not the committee, he said.

“We’re going to fulfill our BCS agreement commitment and continue to work with BCS leadership and ESPN,” Wahl said. “We’re confident the network will secure a name sponsor that’s beneficial to all of us. What we do know is ESPN had an exclusive period to negotiate with FedEx. That exclusive period recently expired and ESPN has now actively expanded its conversations with other interested parties.”

Demsky said the decision to drop out as title sponsor was made earlier this year and the company is not sure if it will continue as a more limited sponsor of the Orange Bowl.

“Obviously, the Orange Bowl has been a long time partner and friend and we have some very deep seated relationships. From that perspective I think the Orange Bowl and the entire Orange Bowl festival and all the events that surround that BCS game are a very important part of the community for South Florida," Demsky said. "We’ll look at opportunities that might be available, but for right now, it’s probably much too early to speculate.”

Demsky said the decision had nothing to do with the matchups in recent Orange Bowl games, which have been criticized for their lack of luster, when the Orange Bowl isn’t hosting the national championship game.

“We don’t really get too involved in game matchups, that’s something that has to be worked out by the BCS and the bowl committees," he said. "Our focus has always been creating marketing programs around us that promote the Orange Bowl.”

The Orange Bowl committee announced FedEx as its game title sponsor in 1989 for the 1990 game -- before the Bowl Championship Series was formed in 1998. The Orange, Sugar, Rose and Fiesta bowls each host a BCS bowl game and the fifth BCS game is the national championship game, which rotates among the four bowls. The Orange Bowl next hosts the national championship game in 2013.

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It is official: Tim Tebow NCAA Football 11 cover athlete


tebow1.jpgAs anticipated and repeatedly reported, former UF quarterback Tim Tebow IS gracing the cover of EA Sports’ NCAA Football 11.

The videogame will be available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation2 and PlayStation3 on July 13. Find out more about the game and watch a video of the cover shoot at ncaafootball11.com.

ESPN shadowed Tebow during the cover shoot. Read the Q&A here.

Meanwhile, Nike announced this week that it has signed a partnership with the NFL hopeful. The deal is reportedly for shoes and apparel, but a Nike press release dated Monday says only “Nike plans to utilize Tebow to assist in elevating the training products and tools the company has developed to build championship athletes.”

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Deerfield company's protein bars fuel teams in national championship game


When No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Texas face off in tonight’s BCS National Championship in the Rose Bowl, Daniel Schapiro and Nathan Feldman will be watching with interest in both teams.

After all, Schapiro’s and Feldman’s EB Performance LLC of Deerfield Beach, which makes bite size protein cookies and bars, has supplied their PB & Whey Protein Bites to Alabama and Texas for the past two years.

“We hope it’s a great game and ends in a tie,” Feldman said with a chuckle. “We’re going to be watching with one side of our bodies dressed in the Crimson Tide of Alabama and the other side in the burnt orange of the Texas Longhorns.”

The workout buddies formed their company after not being able to find a tasty protein bar. Read my colleague Cindy Kent’s March 2008 small business profile about the company here.

EB’s peanut butter snack bar was also used by the LSU baseball and North Carolina men’s basketball teams, both of which won championships last year. Other colleges using EB’s snacks include Florida, FAU, Michigan, Nebraska, and Auburn.

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Orange Bowl Committee and tourism officials wary of Playoff system


The 76th FedEx Orange Bowl kicks off tonight at Land Shark Stadium with the Iowa Hawkeyes facing the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

It’s not exactly the balmy South Florida weather fans from Iowa and Georgia expected, nor what tourism officials had in mind either, when they created the Orange Bowl in 1935 to promote the region as a tourist destination. The country had just endured the Great Depression and the Orange Bowl seemed like a good way to help with economic recovery and encourage visitors to get out of the cold.

Similar feelings abound today, among Orange Bowl Committee, tourism and economic development officials. Although ticket sales have been slow for tonight’s game, local officials love the idea that two out-of-state teams are pitted against each other and many fans have been in South Florida in preparation for days.

OB Committee and tourism officials worry the lengthy vacations planned around the Orange Bowl will end if efforts to create a college football playoff system are successful. The debate rages on as it does annually, but has gotten louder with President Obama expressing his support for a playoff and Congress holding hearings on whether the Bowl Championship Series violates antitrust laws.

The story I wrote today that you can read here explores issues on both sides of the BCS versus playoff debate. Meanwhile, Playoff PAC, a political action committee formed in October to push for a playoff, released its first ad targeting the BCS this week. Watch it here:

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Dunkin' Donuts celebrates the Orange Bowl


iowagt1.jpgDunkin’ Donuts is helping fans celebrate Tuesday’s 76th annual FedEx Orange Bowl at Land Shark Stadium with team-colored doughnuts.

Participating South Florida Dunkin’ Donuts locations are selling the decorated doughnuts on Monday and Tuesday. There will be gold-frosted doughnuts with blue sprinkles for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets or black sprinkles to honor the Iowa Hawkeyes. Other variations include yellow (gold) sprinkles or blue woven frosting -- like the ones at left.

The stores are also selling two dozen of the Orange Bowl-themed donuts for $9.99.

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College sports haves and have-nots


chart-1.jpgUniversity of Florida athletics generate more revenue than any other college sports program in the state. By far.

It’s certainly helped that the Gators have won four national championships – two each in football and men’s basketball – in the past four years. Read my story that ran today about the seven Florida schools with football programs.

Florida does so well that Forbes has it ranked 6th in its list of most valuable college football teams. No. 2 Texas is 1, followed by Notre Dame, Penn State, Nebraska and No. 1 Alabama, which plays Texas for the national championship on Jan. 7. Check out Forbes’ top 20 most valuable college football programs here.

Texas also ranks first in royalty revenues it generates from selling licensed merchandise, according to rankings by the Collegiate Licensing Co. CLC handles licensing for some 200 colleges, conferences and bowl games, but not every school uses the company’s services. So the top 10 royalty generators last year that follow, for example, do not include Ohio State:

1. Texas
2. UF
3. Georgia
4. LSU
5. Alabama
6. North Carolina
7. Michigan
8. Penn State
9. Notre Dame
10. Oklahoma

At the other end of the spectrum is FAU, which started its football program nine years ago. Last year, the school's football program cost $4.5 million to operate, but brought in only $2.7 million in revenue. The school raised $8 million in student fees for athletics to help cover expenses.

Here’s a comparison of some UF and FAU expenses and revenues in 2008, according to documents filed with the NCAA:

UF

FOOTBALL
Expenses: $19 million
Revenues: $66.3 million
Ticket sales: $17.3 million

ALL SPORTS
Expenses: $98.8 million
Revenues: $106.6 million
Ticket sales: $21.1 million
Student fees: $2.6 million
Sales of programs, concessions, parking: $4 million
Royalites, licensing, advertising, sponsorship: $10.2 million
Coaching salaries: $13.6 million
Broadcast TV, Radio, Internet rights: $3.9 million

FAU

FOOTBALL
Expenses: $4.5 million
Revenues: $2.7 million
Ticket sales: $618,362

ALL SPORTS
Expenses: $16.3 million
Revenues: $16.6 million
Ticket sales: $703,809
Student fees: $8 million
Sales of programs, concessions, parking: $88,324
Royalties, licensing, advertising, sponsorship: $403,914
Coaching salaries: $3 million

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In time for bowl season…All-Conference Squirrel


Just in time for bowl season, Threadless has reprinted its All-Conference Squirrel T-shirt – the one with the squirrel in the Heisman pose carrying an acorn where the football would be. And it’s on sale -- $10.

(In the spirit of full disclosure – I have one of these. It was given to me as a gift. And yes, I love it.)

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Tourism officials welcome Orange Bowl matchup


When Iowa played USC in the FedEx Orange Bowl in 2003, Iowa Hawkeyes fans turned South Florida black and gold. So much so that tourism officials are hoping the Hawkeyes’ return to the Orange Bowl will be just as lucrative.

“I tell you I feel very bullish, because I remember a few years ago when Iowa played and they had their yellow shirts and those yellow shirts were here early and they stayed late. You saw them all over town,” said Bill Talbert, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Whether fans of Iowa’s OB opponent, Georgia Tech, will travel as well isn’t known, but Talbert is optimistic about them as well. “Georgia -- and Atlanta -- is one of the strongest vacation feeder markets for Miami and in January, it will be cold there and warm here.”

And, of course, Georgia Tech hasn’t played in the Orange Bowl since losing to Florida in 1967.

But back to Iowa. Experts say Iowa fans in South Florida outnumbered Trojans fans by as many as four to one. USC pounded Iowa 38-17 in the game.

“I don’t know if the same numbers will be there as last time because last time was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen,” said Tom Kakert, publisher of hawkeyerepoort.com, who spoke to me while driving in a snowstorm. “They had 25,000 people show up for a pep rally.”

But Kakert expects the Hawkeyes to be well represented again, even though they’d thought they might be going to the Fiesta Bowl instead.

“A lot of people have a lot of good feelings about South Florida. They enjoyed that trip, even though they didn’t enjoy the results of the game.”

The economy and the late Jan. 5 date of the game at Land Shark Stadium are likely to prevent some fans from attending this time, he said. But, he reminded, temperatures will be around 10 degrees in Iowa in early January.

“Hawks fans are excited,” he said. “They’ll be ready to go.”

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Knight Commission report: college football and basketball coaches’ salaries excessive


At its 20th anniversary meeting in Miami on Monday, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics released the results of a survey of university presidents indicating the rising costs of college athletics need to be curtailed.

More than 80 percent of Division 1A (known as Football Bowl Subdivision) school presidents participated in the survey. Of those, 85 percent believe salaries for football and basketball coaches are excessive, and a majority believe even those on their own campuses are overpaid.

Costs of athletics have risen three to four times faster than those for academics. While a majority of the presidents believe serious reform needs to occur there was little consensus on how to make that happen. Read the report here. Read the AP’s account of the meeting here.

With the research in hand, the commission plans to issue a report next year detailing how to approach reform.

The Commission also unveiled a new feature, College Sports 101, on its Web site today that examines the money in college sports, including revenues and expenditures. College Sports 101 can be found here.

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New Gators cereal available; win fridge full of milk


2009_gators_box1.jpgThe 2009 Gators cereal, which hits stores across Florida today, features UF coach Urban Meyer holding up the 2008 National Championship trophy from his team’s victory in the BCS national championship game at Dolphin Stadium in January.

The box of frosted corn flakes is the sixth in the limited edition series produced in a partnership between Florida’s Dairy Farmers and Gator Sports Marketing, which handles UF’s sponsorship and advertising. The cereal is distributed by Deerfield Beach-based Triton Innovative Marketing. (UF is among a number of college and pro teams with special edition cereals. Read the piece I wrote about the program in December here).

As part of this year’s release, the Dairy Farmers have also launched a contest to win a refrigerator and a year’s a supply of milk. (That’s 52 coupons good for a gallon of milk each week, in case you were wondering). Entrants must be at least 18 and explain why they want a new fridge and milk. Enter the contest until Dec. 15 – one entry per person per day -- at Floridamilk.com.

More than 20,000 of the boxes go on sale today at Winn Dixie, Albertsons, Sweetbay and at Gatorzone.com.

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"It's Time" ... to recruit in South Florida


Tennessee Volunteers Coach Lane Kiffin thinks so. The Vols have purchased a billboard on I-95 at Oakland Park Boulevard heading into Fort Lauderdale for the school’s “It’s Time” message. The billboard is going up this week and will stay through Labor Day as the Volunteers look seek out deep high school football talent for their roster.

"We wanted to make an effort to extend our brand beyond the Tennessee geography," Chris Fuller, associate athletic director for sales and marketing, told the Palm Beach Post. "We obviously recognize the value of Florida as it relates to growing and building our program. We just wanted to let people know we're here."

The billboard includes photos of Kiffin and defensive back Eric Berry. The program has also reportedly bought billboards in Atlanta and Memphis.

Rutgers bought billboard ads in South Florida a few years ago.

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BankUnited Center: business as usual


It’s too early to say if the name of the Hurricanes’ basketball arena, BankUnited Center, will change in the wake of the government seizure and new ownership of BankUnited.

The bank – the largest headquartered in Florida – signed a 10-year agreement to put its name on the Coral Gables arena in November 2005. So the bank has a contract and a bank spokeswoman said Friday that it’s “business as usual.”

It’s possible the contract will be honored and the name will remain, particularly since the bank is to continue being called BankUnited.

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CBSSports.com wins fantasy games lawsuit against NFL players


Fort Lauderdale-based CBSSports.com scored a victory this week when a federal judge in Minneapolis ruled CBS Interactive does not have to pay to use NFL players’ names and statistics in its fantasy football games.

U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery said in her April 28 ruling the names and stats are protected by the First Amendment. Her ruling follows an earlier federal appeals court decision that said baseball players’ names and stats are in the public domain. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear that case. Montgomery said the ruling applies to football as well.

“The court declines to indulge in a philosophical debate about whether the public is more fascinated with baseball or football,” Montgomery wrote in her ruling.

“CBS is pleased that the court confirmed the use of player names, statistics and other materials in CBS’ online fantasy games is protected under the First Amendment,” CBSSports.com’s General Manager Jason Kint said in a statement. “CBSSports.com, along with the rest of the fantasy sports industry, looks forward to continuing to provide the fun and excitement of fantasy sports.”

The baseball case began in 2005, when a fantasy baseball game provider sued Major League Baseball seeking the right to use player statistics without a license. The district ruled the First Amendment applied to the information. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

CBSSports.com took the ruling in the baseball case to apply across sports, and even added college players’ names to its college fantasy football game. When its agreement to pay for the use of NFL players stats expired in February 2008, the company declined to renew.

The players’ union threatened to sue, but CBS struck first, filing suit against the NFL Players Association Sept. 3 in Minnesota, where the baseball case had been decided. Players Inc., the marketing arm of the players union, counter-sued Sept. 9 in Florida, where CBSSports.com is based. The Florida case was stayed until a decision could be made in Minnesota.

“We are evaluating the decision now and we haven’t determined what our next steps are going to be,” Jeffrey Kessler, an attorney representing the players, said Thursday.

The union clearly thought a different district court might rule differently and chose Florida because of where CBSSports.com is based.

Where the sports leagues and their players unions have supported the notion the players’ identities require licensing, the fantasy sports providers have lined up squarely against the need to pay licensing fees. Those providers have to be rejoicing: the fantasy sports industry counts some 27 million players in the United States, who spend an estimated $800 million annually on magazines, draft boards and Web site game subscriptions.

“This victory further cements the autonomy of fantasy sports operators from sports leagues and player unions,” newly-elected Fantasy Sports Trade Association President Paul Charchian said in a statement. “The ruling ensures that the industry’s hundreds of fantasy companies will continue creating wide ranging products to serve the needs of fantasy players."

According to an FSTA release, Charchian and Glenn Colton, a New York lawyer who filed friend of the court briefs on behalf of the FSTA in the baseball case, both said they hoped the fantasy sports industry and leagues and players' associations could work together.


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Future NCAA and WBC games for South Florida?


Michigan State and North Carolina will close out the 2009 NCAA tournament with the title game in Detroit tonight. But the question remains, will South Florida host a portion of the tournament again?

Despite crowds that barely broke 10,000 at 20,000-seat AmericanAirlines Arena for the March 20 and 22 first and second round games last month, South Florida officials hope to bring men’s college basketball tournament games back. Bid specifications for the first and second rounds and regionals for 2011, 2012 and 2013 are to go out shortly, NCAA officials say.

“Most certainly,” Pete Garcia, athletic director at host school FIU, said of bidding again, “because it’s not just good only for FIU, but it’s good for the entire basketball community in South Florida.”

But it wasn’t lost on the hosts that the colleges assigned to AmericanAirlines Arena held scant attraction for South Floridians, who aren’t hugely supportive of college basketball to begin with.

“You worry about the things you control, what we couldn’t control was the matchups,” Garcia said. “We did the best with the teams that got awarded to us, it’s nobody’s fault. Team like Florida didn’t get to the NCAA tournament.”

Mike Sophia, executive director of the Miami-Dade Sports Commission, said he was disappointed with ticket sales, but understood the matchups weren’t a draw.

“This year, we had first and second round and you wound up with the eight teams that may or may not sort of fit,” Sophia said. “I think Syracuse was an interesting team for us, a Big East team for us, but the rest of the group, was certainly strange.”

South Florida also lost out on the destination factor with two teams from warm weather Arizona.

“I just think now, we’ve got to look at it and I think they [the NCAA] should look at trying to make sure all the sites have some sort of geographical or national attractiveness to the teams that are playing at each site,” Sophia said.

As a result, Sophia said the host group will look at whether to apply for first and second round games (like those it hosted last month) or a regional (Sweet 16 and Elite 8), or both.

Jeanne Boyd, NCAA director of Division I Men’s Basketball, praised the hosting of the games at AmericanAirlines Arena and said a host of factors are considered for hosting in the future.

“They’ve done a very good job, the building has been very responsive,” she said.

Boyd said a thorough evaluation of everything from the experience at the arena to hotels will be taken into consideration, as well feedback from the hosts, the schools and others.

Meanwhile, the World Baseball Classic second round games at Dolphin Stadium last month didn’t draw as well as hosts had hoped – in part because the Netherlands were among the four teams, rather than the Dominican Republic. But officials were pleased with the turnout and are planning to bid for games in the next WBC in 2013, perhaps even the Finals. The Marlins hope to be hosting games in a new ballpark in Little Havana, scheduled to open in 2012.

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Heat faces Charlotte on and off the court; and more with brackets


The Heat takes on the Charlotte Bobcats at 7 tonight, but the Heat dancers have already beaten the Charlotte Lady Cats in the NBA’s fourth annual NBA.com Dance Team Bracket Competition.

That means the three-time dance competition champion Heat dancers are in the championship round against the Houston Rockets Power Dancers.

Heat President Pat Riley allowed the dancers to use his trademarked “three-peat” term in their quest to win the dance competition last year. They wore “Three-peat” T-shirts and sent out email blasts reminding fans to vote for them. Riley trade-marked the term in 1988 when his L.A. Lakers were attempting to win their third straight NBA title. But the Detroit Pistons swept the Lakers in the 1989 Finals.

Fans can vote for the dance team they want crowned until 2 p.m. Monday online here.

Meanwhile, Dunkin’ Donuts’ bracket is down to its “Fabulous Four” today:

It’s No. 1 Glazed; No. 3 Boston Kreme; No. 5 Chocolate Glazed; and No. 10 Coconut (talk about an upset).

The Florida State Donut Champion will be crowned Tuesday. Doughnut fans can lobby franchisees to vote for their favorite via Facebook and Twitter.


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March Madness and brackets of doughnuts; burgers


Even with layoffs and fewer people in offices these days, NCAA Tournament bracket pools are thriving and the tournament is still a big draw online.

According to Fort Lauderdale-based CBSSports.com, which first launched its March Madness on Demand streaming video online in 2003, traffic was up 60 percent from 2008 during the first four days of the tournament. The company, which made the product free and advertising-supported in 2006 and registration-free last year, 5.6 million unique visitors logged into the video player and users have watched and listened to 6.5 million hours of video and audio – a 71 percent increase from 2008.

Even the “boss button,” which allows office workers to quickly call up a spreadsheet so their bosses don’t know they’re watching the tournament, was clicked 2.5 million times during the tournament's first four days -- that's the same number that clicked the boss button during the entire tournament last year.

The product, which now includes an HD version of the video player, is available across a variety of other Web sites, including YouTube, ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, MySpace and Facebook. And advertisers continue to support it in large numbers. Ad revenues in 2006 were about $4 million and rose to $23 million in 2008. CBSSport.com expects those figures to rise more than 30 percent this year.

Meanwhile, bracket fun continues. Dunkin’ Donuts announced its ExtraOrdinary Eight donuts this week:

(1) Glazed vs. (9) Jelly
(2) Old Fashioned vs. (10) Coconut
(3) Boston Kreme vs. (11) Blueberry
(13) Strawberry Frosted vs. (5) Chocolate Glazed – Can “The Straw” stir C-Glaze’s drink?

Want to follow the Facebook discussion on this? Find it here.

Those of you who know me well, know I have a giant sweet tooth, but doughnuts just aren’t my thing. However, I’m still stunned that Jelly beat Powdered in the first round. Anyone else with me on this?

And finally, thanks to Toby Srebnik, who came up with Dunkin’s Sweet 16, for pointing me in the direction of another gustatory bracket at Washingtonian.com – this one pits burger joints.

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Putting the sweet in Sweet 16


4-Marble-vs2.jpgDunkin' donuts is bringing a goofy new meaning to Sweet 16.

With Miami hosting NCAA Tournament first-round games today and Sunday, the doughnut chain dreamed up a sticky alternative bracket, pitting 16 varieties of its signature baked goods. Among the matchups: No. 3 Boston Kreme vs. No. 14 Baravian Kreme dubbed "A classic, U.S. city vs. German State." No. 8 Powdered vs. No. 9 Jelly is "shaping up to be a battle of the ages," according to a press release.

Dunkin' paired some unusual choices, including No. 6 Chocolate Frosted vs. No. 11 Blueberry. The mismatch of No. 1 to No. 16 is Glazed vs. Guava. Guava was included for demographic purposes, naturally.

Winners will be decided by the votes of 15 Dunkin' store owners across Florida. Voting runs through Sunday for the Sweet 16; March 25-27 for the “Extraordinary Eight,” and April 1-3 for the “Fabulous Four.” The "Florida State Donut Champion" will be announced April 7.

Facebook and Twitter users are encouraged to influence the votes by expressing their support for their favorite doughnuts. Just don't lick your fingers.

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UM aims to boost attendance at women’s – and men’s – basketball games


Just in time for Super Bowl XLIII, the University of Miami is offering women’s basketball fans a chance to win a 42-inch plasma television, complete with mounting hardware and installation.

Two TVs will be awarded at halftime of the UM women’s basketball game against Wake Forest at 2 p.m. Sunday at BankUnited Center. All fans will have a chance to fill out an entry form when they arrive at the arena.

Meanwhile, WQAM (560-AM) is offering a “Lucky Charms promotion” that includes the best 100 remaining seats at BankUnited Center for Wednesday’s men’s game against Wake Forest for $56 instead of the usual $75. The promotion gets better if the ‘Canes beat the Demon Deacons. If that happens, you’ll receive a free ticket to the Canes game against Boston College on Feb. 21. Then, if the ‘Canes beat Boston College, that scores you a free ticket to the team’s final home game against NC State on March 7. And there’s more: if the Canes win their final four home games, you’ll get a free season ticket next year. For more information, call 1-800-GO-CANES and mention the “Lucky Charms promotion” or email: canestix@miami.edu.

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FedEx’s BCS and Orange Bowl exposure


FedEx isn’t advertising during Super Bowl XLIII on Sunday, but the express shipping company got nearly four hours of television exposure during this month’s FedEx-sponsored Orange Bowl and BCS national championship games at Dolphin Stadium.

That’s exposure valued at $383 million measured against television ad rates during the games – with the value during the BCS game being higher than the Orange Bowl game, naturally. According to Joyce Julius, which measures sponsor exposure, that value was calculated this way: $256 million from the BCS game in which Florida beat Oklahoma, and $126.8 million from the Orange Bowl game in which Virginia Tech beat Cincinnati. Joyce Julius reported FedEx got 51 mentions and an hour and 59 minutes of screen time during the BCS game and 59 mentions and an hour and 56 minutes during the Orange Bowl game.

Two other BCS bowl game sponsors scored higher values than FedEx did for the Orange Bowl game during their traditional bowl games this year. Tostitos received 43 mentions and an hour and 58 minutes of screen time during the Fiesta Bowl for a value of $138 million; Allstate received 45 mentions and an hour and 51 minutes during the Sugar Bowl for a value of $131 million. Citi, meanwhile, got 25 mentions and an hour and 21 minutes airtime during the Rose Bowl for a value of $111.4 million, Joyce Julius reported.

The Michigan firm's research shows other companies that received significant exposure time during the BCS game included Nike with a value of $61 million and Southwest Airlines with a value of $31.3 million.

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South Florida’s big football week


While Orange Bowl Committee members are pulling double duty, serving as ambassadors for tonight’s 75th annual FedEx Orange Bowl and next Thursday’s BCS National Championship Game, some people – and places -- are doing triple duty.

The Dolphin Stadium grounds crew, for example, is preparing for three big games – now that the Dolphins have made the playoffs for the first time since the 2001 season – two bowl games with an NFL playoff game in the middle. That hasn't happened since the BCS added a fifth game to the rotation three years ago.

As soon as tonight’s game between Cincinnati and Virginia Tech is completed, workers will begin cutting out the logos at the center of the field and the endzones for new pieces of sod that will then be painted with Dolphins and NFL playoffs logos in advance of Sunday’s 1 p.m. Dolphins-Baltimore Ravens game. After Sunday’s game, the same process – which takes up to 12 hours – will occur again in advance of the BCS game featuring Florida and Oklahoma.

Stadium President Bruce Schulze calls hosting the three games “pleasant challenges.” After all, the stadium had some practice this fall hosting the UM Hurricanes for their first season since moving from the Orange Bowl.

“We got so good at doing it during the Dolphins and UM seasons,” Schulze said.

Meanwhile, the Marriott Harbor Beach in Fort Lauderdale is the host hotel for the Orange Bowl and BCS games and it will also play host to the Ravens.

Tourism officials are hoping Ravens fans will join the visitors here this week for the bowl games.

“Baltimore has a great reputation for traveling with their teams,” Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau President Nicki Grossman said.

The CVB has been promoting the region in Cincinnati, Virginia and Oklahoma, she said.

The three games have also provided an active secondary market for tickets. Tickets to the Orange Bowl are still listed for re-sale, although not for as little as $6 as some were selling for last month.

“There’s definitely a lot of activity down there,” said Scott Roback, vice president of business development for RazorGator, which serves as the official ticket exchange site for the OB and BCS games. But Roback said, the Dolphins game “is not the highest demand playoff ticket. That being said, there’s still a secondary market for tickets.”

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BCS in 3-D


Can’t score tickets to the BCS National Championship game between Florida and Oklahoma on Jan. 8 at Dolphin Stadium, but want something more that just to sit in front of your TV?

Fox is producing a 3-D broadcast of the game that is to be shown live in 80 theaters, which have been equipped with the new technology, in 35 states across the country. Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. and 3ality Digital's 3-D image-capture technology are working with Fox on the production. Tickets are expected to run $18 to $22.

On Dec. 4, 3ality Digital worked with the NFL to broadcast the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers game to invited guests at theaters in three markets – Boston, New York and Los Angeles. Although it wasn’t perfect, it reportedly got generally good reviews. Cinedigm and Turner Sports have reached agreement to broadcast the NBA’s All-Star Saturday night festivities from Phoenix in theaters in 3-D on Feb. 14.

For the BCS game, the closest theater to South Florida scheduled to carry the broadcast is the Rave Port St. Lucie.

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Tourism officials cheer OB and BCS match-ups


Even with the Gators in the BCS national championship game on Jan. 8, tourism officials were expressing their gratitude Monday for the match-ups in the two bowl games that will be held at Dolphin Stadium in January.

The other three teams are from out of state and their fans are expected to travel. Virginia Tech will face the University of Cincinnati, which has never appeared in a major bowl game, in the FedEx Orange Bowl on Jan. 1. The Gators play Oklahoma in the national championship game on Jan. 8.

Tourism officials are predicting that even in this difficult economy, fans will pump as much as $250 million or more into the local economy in hotel rooms, restaurants and other businesses. College football fans have a passion that’s unrivaled, even in tough times, tourism officials say.

Mary Beth Romig, spokeswoman for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, told my colleague, tourism reporter Doreen Hemlock, that hosting the title and Sugar Bowl games in January, brought an estimated $350 million to the region, including $200 million from the BCS game, even though it included a local team, Louisiana State University.

And the Sugar Bowl game brought newcomer Hawaii. Romig said Hawaiians typically don’t travel east of Las Vegas, so it wasn’t clear the team’s fans would make the trip to New Orleans. Tourism officials needn’t have worried. The team’s fans chartered planes.

“The spirit of Hawaiians was terrific,” Romig said. “It was good for New Orleans. Having the national spotlight on us was very important.”

Broward is expected to benefit this year because not only is the media headquarters hotel the Marriott Harbor Beach in Fort Lauderdale, but Virginia Tech and Florida are to stay at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood. Virginia Tech will practice at Nova Southeastern University; Florida at American Heritage in Plantation. Cincinnati and Oklahoma will stay at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach and practice at Barry University.

Meanwhile, last week, tourism officials said they weren’t quite sure what to expect from fans of Big East champion Cincinnati. To hear it from the university, though, the school is expecting a big crowd. The athletics department has been fielding phone calls ever since it was clear the Bearcats were bowl eligible. Those calls picked up after the team became the Big East champion, said Mike Harris, Cincinnati assistant athletic director for sports communications.

The school included $50 bowl credits with the sale of each season ticket that can be applied to the purchase of bowl game tickets. Those credits were also sold individually and by Friday afternoon a total of some 8,600 credits had been purchased, Harris said.

Reggie Philpott, a student employee in Cincinnati’s ticket office, said last week that Bearcats fans were planning vacations around a possible trip to South Florida. “It’s like 18 degrees in Cincinnati,” he said.

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Two bowl games are better than one


Even with all the economic uncertainty we’re facing – now that we’re officially in a recession -- Orange Bowl Committee officials are still happy to be hosting two bowl games this year: the 75th FedEx Orange Bowl on Jan. 1 and the BCS National Championship game on Jan. 8.

Corporations and fans are belt-tightening, of course, but that’s why hosting the national championship game this year – and the extra bowl game – is good news, said Orange Bowl Committee CEO Eric Poms.

“You feel it with the corporate community, you certainly pay attention to the ability of fans to travel, but fortunately the BCS has great significance. So hopefully the universities the first week build a lot of excitement and have that opportunity to play in the 75th FedEx Orange Bowl," Poms said. "And the next week, when you have the national championship at stake we expect there won’t be enough inventory of tickets and sponsorships and suites.”

A bit of an unknown is Cincinnati, which is expected to face the ACC champion (Boston College or Virginia Tech) in the Orange Bowl game, but chances are Bearcats fans will relish the trip to see the team in its first major bowl game in warm South Florida.

“We don’t know because it’s a program that joined the Big East a few years ago. We don’t know what the reaction will be,” Poms said. “Our gauge is when programs get in for the first time, there’s an explosion of enthusiasm because it’s a stage they’ve never been on … It’s cold there, so it’s an opportunity.”

Following that game with the national championship game should be good for the tourism industry.

“The hotels, airlines and rental cars and restaurants get double the dose,” Poms said. “I think it’s great visibility for the community.”

"The economy affects every industry in this country, the bowl industry is no different,” Poms said, but he also said the enthusiasm of college football fans is unrivaled. "There's a passion, people went to school there, they're connected to their university. So when it comes to opportunities such as suite sales or hospitality or travel, I think it transcends that decision."

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What’s in a name?


With college football season underway, so is Fort Lauderdale-based CBSSports.com’s college fantasy football game, which comes with a new option this year: the opportunity to draft players by name, rather than position.

Instead of picking Florida QB, you can actually draft Tim Tebow.

The move has already ruffled those looking to ensure college athletics maintain the amateur label and meant more players of the game.

The NCAA’s bylaws are aimed at preventing the commercial use of players’ likenesses –their names and images – to protect their athletic eligibility.

CBSSports.com has interpreted a court ruling earlier this year that baseball players' names and statistics are in the public domain to also apply to college athletes. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeal ruled a fantasy company’s use of baseball players’ names and stats was a right of publicity, but was outweighed by the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

“As the leader in the fantasy sports business, we’re constantly looking for ways to distinguish our service from the competition,” CBSSports.com General Manager Jason Kint said in a statement, adding that he expected the change to increase the game's popularity.

And that’s troubling the NCAA and the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. CBSSports.com doesn’t charge for the college game or award prizes, but does sell advertising to support the game. If players’ names make the game more popular, no doubt other fantasy providers will add names.

Will that lead to expansion of college athletes’ names in other merchandise? Will video game manufacturers add in players’ names and likenesses, rather than just Tebow's No. 15? Will jerseys be sold with players' names already on them?

The NCAA, which CBS is paying $6 billion for 11 years to broadcast the Final Four, says it must comply with the court ruling, but board members don’t want to see further erosion of the amateur bylaws.

“We’re monitoring it carefully,” NCAA President Myles Brand said in a conference call this month. “We do know there will be further activity in the fantasy league area. We think what has occurred has been a modest change from the current situation, but one of which we’re greatly concerned and we will look to see what our options are in the future, if there are further developments in the future.”

Rick Karcher, associate professor of law and director of the Center for Law and Sports at Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, thinks the NCAA needs to take a firmer approach.

“It’s hard to draw a logical line between the use of names in fantasy leagues and the use of names in video games ... It’s a slippery slope. They’re all commercial uses whether you’re talking about jerseys or trading cards," Karcher said.

“I don’t have a problem with the concept of amateurism. I’m not of the view they need to be compensated or paid, I understand amateurs and I get it, but this is different,” Karcher said. “When you’re talking about a third party outside of the NCAA and its member schools profiting off the athletes, to me it’s the NCAA’s job, if their mission is amateurism, it’s their job to prevent it as much as possible.”

Steve Peretz, an intellectual property lawyer in Miami, disagrees, saying the fantasy decision is isolated.

“The difference in the fantasy league is the player’s name is not being used to endorse a product. It’s being used as part of a gaming activity. It’s not being used to endorse Nike. It’s being used for this derivative purpose," Peretz said. “I don’t see this ruling as changing those sorts of merchandising rights. This decision is not allocating who has a proprietary right. It’s in the public domain … it would diminish proprietary rights, not expand it.”

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March Madness in the workplace


Every year for the past half dozen or so, Chicago outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas has estimated lost worker productivity from time spent paying attention to the NCAA Tournament – watching games, filling out brackets and trash talking. This year’s figure? $1.7 billion.

But the study, some argue, presumes that office workers spend every moment focusing on work and conversation never strays to current events, American Idol, or surfing YouTube to watch videos. My story today looks at companies that have decided to join the March Madness hoopla and allow bracket pools and in some cases, TVs will be tuned to games. Plenty of workers will be checking out CBSSports.com’s March Madness on Demand streaming video of all the games online.

Is your office joing the fun? Or have pools and game watching been banned?

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Southwest Airlines and college football


Southwest Airlines may no longer be a sponsor of the NFL, but it isn’t out of the football business. The low-cost airline, known for its humorous NFL ads, has signed up to be the official airline of the BCS.

The airline’s new ad campaign is to begin airing in January during the BCS bowl games, starting with the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day and including the FedEx Orange Bowl on Jan. 3. The airline is also sponsoring the Orange Bowl’s halftime show, which is featuring ZZ Top.

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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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